American Heart Month – February 2023

Healthy Heart
It’s February, American Heart Month, a time when everyone can pay attention to their cardiovascular health. Heart Disease is largely preventable. Understanding heart disease risk factors and how to live a heart-healthy lifestyle are important aspects of self-care. Read on to learn about steps you can take to live a heart-healthy lifestyle.

Check your cholesterol and blood pressure 

Your cholesterol levels are influenced by a variety of factors. Age, gender, eating habits, and level of physical activity, for example, can all have an impact on your cholesterol levels. Children can also have high cholesterol levels, particularly if they are overweight or obese, or if their parents have high blood cholesterol. 

A blood test can determine whether your cholesterol levels are normal. Discuss with your provider how frequently you should have your cholesterol tested. Total cholesterol, “bad” LDL cholesterol, “good” HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides are all part of your cholesterol numbers. Inquire with your provider about what these figures mean for you. 

At least once a year, most adults should have their blood pressure checked. You will probably need to have your blood pressure checked more frequently if it is high. Talk to your provider about how often you should have your blood pressure taken. 

Choose Heart-Healthy Foods 

Choosing certain foods, such as fruits and vegetables, while limiting others, such as saturated fats and added sugars, is part of heart-healthy eating. 

Limit your sodium intake 

Adults and children over the age of 14 should consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. Children under the age of 14 may require even less sodium per day, depending on their gender and age. If you have high blood pressure, you should limit your sodium intake even more. Consult your doctor about the appropriate sodium intake for you or your child. 

Cut back on saturated fats

Saturated fats, also known as “bad” fats, are found in animal products like butter, cheese, and fatty meats. Less than 10% of your daily calories should come from them. Vegetable oils and nuts contain unsaturated fats, generally referred to as “healthy” fats. 

Read the nutrition facts on food labels and select those that are richer in unsaturated fats and lower in saturated fats. 

Limit your intake of added sugars 

You should limit the number of calories you consume daily from added sugars. This will assist you in selecting nutrient-rich foods while staying within your daily calorie limit. 

Fruit, for example, contains natural sugars. Added sugars are not found naturally in foods and are instead used to sweeten foods and beverages. Brown sugar, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, raw sugar, and sucrose are among them. 

Sweetened drinks, snacks, and sweets are the most common sources of added sugars in the United States. 

Take part in Regular Physical Activity

Getting regular exercise can: 

  • Assist you in losing excess weight. 
  • Increase your physical fitness. 
  • Decrease many risk factors for heart disease, such as “bad” LDL cholesterol levels, raise “good” HDL cholesterol levels, and manage high blood pressure. 
  • Reduce stress and boost your mental health. 
  • Lower your risk of developing other diseases such as type 2 diabetes, depression, and cancer. 

Stress Management 

According to research, an emotionally upsetting event, particularly one involving anger, can trigger a heart attack or angina in some people. High blood pressure and other risk factors for heart disease can be worsened by stress. Some of the ways people respond to stress, such as drinking alcohol, using other substances, smoking, or overeating, are unhealthy. 

Learning how to deal with stress and problems can benefit both your mental and physical health.  

Consider stress-relieving activities such as: 

  • Consultation with a professional counselor 
  • Participating in a stress-reduction program 
  • Meditation practice 
  • Engaging in physical activity 
  • Experimenting with relaxation techniques 
  • Communication with friends, family, and community or religious support systems 

Talk to your healthcare provider about the types of stress management activities that are appropriate for you.